Postcard from... Athens


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The Independent Online

The baking temperatures of a Greek summer aren’t deterring the country’s angry workers from staging protests against the demands of its lenders. Unionists staged demonstrations in at least two cities in the country opposing government measures which allow stores to open on several Sundays a year.

Demonstrators walked down the main shopping road in downtown Athens taunting businessmen who decided to open their stores yesterday. But shoppers seemed unaffected by the protest and the presence of riot police as they continued to run  their errands.

Certain small businesses however decided to remain shut, as their owners and workers joined thousands of Athenians who chose to spend a day at one of the country’s many beaches. “We work six days a week already, I think we deserve a day off,” said Toulis Artemiades, an optician.

“Greeks don’t have money to spend on shopping, full stop, so being open on a Sunday doesn’t make a difference; it only benefits the big department stores that can afford to pay for the extra staff.” Greeks are among the hardest-working nations but get among the lowest salaries, according to a survey of 36 countries by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.